Yellow Jackets lift Bulldogs to sweep; LSU also wields broom

COOKING RICE: Louisiana Tech pitcher Ryan Jennings struck out 14 Rice hitters Saturday to highlight the Bulldogs’ three-game Conference USA sweep of the Owls in Ruston.

JOURNAL STAFF

RUSTON – Former Byrd High products Jonathan Fincher and Steele Netterville led Louisiana Tech to a 3-1 win Sunday against Rice as the Bulldogs completed the series sweep. 

Fincher (6-1) tossed six scoreless innings with seven hits and four strikeouts in his third straight dominant start as the Bulldogs (23-10, 9-3 C-USA) remained in second place in Conference USA. 

Netterville homered for the second straight game as his third-inning solo shot padded Tech’s lead to 3-0. 

“It’s a sweep, but we left way too many runners out there,” said Tech head coach Lane Burroughs. “We had three great starts this weekend.  

“Fincher was really good. We needed a great start out of him, and he gave it to us. Steele was able to get on one and hit a home run. I’m proud of our defense we didn’t make any errors and we didn’t all weekend.” 

The Bulldogs jumped out quickly in this one as they scored the first two runs of the game with two outs in the first. Cole McConnell delivered an RBI double and Walker Burchfield followed up with a single to bring the second run home. 

Right-hander Jarret Whorff came out of the bullpen in the seventh throwing two perfect innings in relief of Fincher. Whorff struck out three of the six batters he faced. 

Kyle Crigger came on to pitch the ninth inning. Crigger allowed the first two men to reach base, giving up one earned run. The Bulldog closer earned his sixth save as he struck out two after the run came across. 

On Saturday, Netterville’s two-run home run was part of a four-run fifth inning as Tech answered three early runs from Rice to race to a 9-3 win. Pitcher Ryan Jennings struck out 14 in the win. 

The Bulldogs opened quickly Friday with a three-run home run from Walker Burchfield to crank up a 5-3 win in the opener. 

Tech completed its fourth conference sweep of the season. The Bulldogs entertain Northwestern State in a midweek tussle in Ruston on Tuesday before hitting the road to Marshall for a C-USA series starting Friday. 

LSU: The Tigers didn’t have any problems finding their broom as LSU (23-9, 7-5) completed the sweep of Mississippi State on Sunday with a 13-3 win. 

Josh Pearson homered twice and collected five RBIs to finish off the Bulldogs (18-15, 4-8), who also dropped decisions of 5-2 and 4-3. 

GRAMBLING: After the Tigers unleashed their bats with 34 combined runs in the first two wins against Arkansas-Pine Bluff, the Lions returned the favor Sunday. 

UAPB took the finale 17-7 on 18 hits to avoid the sweep. The Lions broke away from a 6-6 tie with an eight-run sixth inning. 

GSU (13-9, 8-4 SWAC) started the series with wins of 14-3 and 20-10 to capture its third series win of the season. 

NORTHWESTERN STATE: The visiting Demons couldn’t quiet the Incarnate Word offense as the Cardinals completed a three-game sweep Sunday with an 11-4 win. 

UIW scored 25 runs in the three wins (8-2 and 6-2 in the first two games) as NSU (15-16, 5-4 SLC) dropped its first league series of the season. 

ULM: Troy continued its offensive onslaught Sunday in a 13-10 win as the Trojans swept the Warhawks in Monroe. 

The Trojans plated 32 runs on the weekend as ULM (10-19-1, 4-7-1 Sun Belt) has dropped six of its last seven conference games.

The Warhawks lost 7-2 and 12-7 to open the series.

Photo courtesy of Louisiana Tech